NHL Betting: Playoff Specials to Target

Nicholas Vazquez
Nicholas Vazquez@nickvaz

The regular season is just about over, so we can start looking ahead to the playoffs. With all the exciting action on the ice, this is the best time of year for NHL fans.

We can also find some action off the ice when looking at the NHL odds at FanDuel Sportsbook. There are some good opportunities to find value as we head into the postseason.

Today, we'll look at some playoff specials, mostly involving how far teams will go this postseason. These come from the NHL playoff specials at FanDuel Sportsbook.

Note: Lines are subject to change after this article is published. All NHL odds come from FanDuel Sportsbook.

NHL Playoffs Betting

Florida Panthers to Win 2+ Rounds (+162)

Last season, the Florida Panthers were not given much of a chance of winning a round. They barely snuck into the playoffs as the 8 seed and had to face the Boston Bruins, the best team in the NHL. The Panthers managed to win that round as well as two more on a fairly miraculous run to the Stanley Cup Final.

The Panthers had good underlying numbers throughout last season and finally got good enough goaltending in the postseason to win consistently. They've carried that over to the 2023-24 regular season, which has led to much more steady play.

Florida had the fifth-best expected goal rate (xG%) in the NHL and also has the second-highest team save percentage. They also had a power play and penalty kill that ranked in the top 10 in the league.

In the first round, they'll face their in-state rivals, the Tampa Bay Lightning. Revenge will certainly be on the Panthers' mind, as Tampa eliminated them in the 2021 and 2022 playoffs. The difference is, the Panthers are more equipped to beat this version of the Lightning. Tampa's xG% is just 48.97% at five-on-five, compared to 54.84% for Florida.

FanDuel Sportsbook has the Panthers as a -176 series favorite in the first round against the Lightning, so we should expect Florida to get through this round.

In the second round, they'd face the winner of the Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs. Florida eliminated both of these teams last season and would have an edge over either one this season.

The Bruins are not the same team they were last campaign. Their calling card for years was being a dominant possession team, but this season, their xG% is only the 15th-best in the league (50.88%). They also finished with only 36 regulation wins, which was just the 11th-most in the NHL. Their point total was inflated by 15 overtime losses, the third-most in the league.

The Leafs also have been unable to win a lot of games in regulation, just 33 with one game still to play. The question marks over Toronto's goaltending and defense make it a stretch to think that they'll be able to beat Florida. The Panthers won their most recent meeting, 5-2, on Tuesday night.

The Panthers have the second-best odds to win the Stanley Cup, so I like this +162 number on them to win two rounds.

New York Rangers to Win 2+ Rounds (+130)

The New York Rangers won the Presidents' Trophy for the best record in the regular season. However, they aren't the Stanley Cup favorite in their own division.

They have some question marks because they aren't the best team at generating xG at five-on-five. Their 49.28% rate at five-on-five ranks only 20th in the NHL.

There are a few reasons why New York has been successful without dominating in this area. They have some elite talent that is able to score at a higher rate than most players, such as Artemi Panarin. He finished the season with 49 goals and 120 points.

Panarin and the other talented players form a great power play, the third-best in the NHL. They also excel on the penalty kill, ranking third-best team in that, as well.

The Rangers will face the Washington Capitals in the first round. No one is expecting the Rangers to struggle against a Capitals team that had a -36 goal difference in the regular season. FanDuel Sportsbook has New York as a massive -375 favorite in that series.

The difficult series to cash this bet would be in the next round -- likely against the Carolina Hurricanes. Carolina finished just three points behind the Rangers in the regular season and posted their normal excellent five-on-five numbers.

The formula has been the same for the Hurricanes for the past few seasons. They will be able to control play at five-on-five, but when they face teams in the playoffs with a talent level that's above theirs, they struggle to get past them.

The Panthers easily handled the 'Canes in the Conference Finals last season in a 4-0 sweep. In 2022, the Rangers' talent allowed them to gain an edge in a close, seven-game series. In 2021, the Lightning didn't have much difficulty in beating Carolina in five games.

Where the Rangers definitely have the edge is in goal. Igor Shesterkin looks back to his best of late, with a .929 save percentage since February 1. That's the fourth-highest in the NHL. Carolina has had goaltending issues in the playoffs in the past, and with just the 15th-best team save percentage, it could plague them again.

There's also a small chance the Rangers' second-round series would be against the New York Islanders, who are +275 underdogs to win their first-round meeting with the Hurricanes. If the two New York teams meet up, the Rangers would be huge favorites to win the series, and this bet would have great value.

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The above author is a FanDuel employee and is not eligible to compete in public daily fantasy contests or place sports betting wagers on FanDuel. The advice provided by the author does not necessarily represent the views of FanDuel. Taking the author's advice will not guarantee a successful outcome. You should use your own judgment when participating in daily fantasy contests or placing sports wagers.